Right now, 32 states have some kind of anti-transgender legislation on the table. If I’m doing the math correctly, there are 111 bills total. Obviously, some states have multiple bills. Texas leads the pack with 12, followed by Iowa and Tennessee with eight each. The majority of these bills either ban transgender athletes from participating in sports programs or criminalize gender affirming care for transgender youth. In some states, parents who allow their child to receive gender affirming care can be charged with felony child abuse. While most of these anti-trans bills are focused on athletics and medical care, it doesn’t stop there. Iowa, for example, has three bills worth pointing out:
- HF340 is a bill defines “woman” as “a person born with female genitalia and reproductive organs,” replacing the current law which defines gender identity as “the gender-related identity of a person, regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth.”
- SF80 requires that school employees must provide written notification to parents prior to asking students what their preferred pronouns are. (This particularly stupid bill was penned by Senator Amy Sinclair (R). Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org, just in case you want to let her know how you feel about this one. While I don’t know about pronouns, Amy’s preferred noun is clearly “asshole.”)
- And in homage to a classic, SF224 is yet another bathroom bill.
It should be noted that none of these bills are constituent-driven or the result of any problems. Instead, this the hate work of multiple far-right organizations. Their mission is to prey upon the most vulnerable among us by violating their privacy, interfering with their personal agency and denying their fundamental rights. It’s bullying via legislation. (Fun fact: Montana’s HB112 anti-trans sports bill was written by Alliance Defending Freedom, which Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a hate group.)
It’s a favorite party trick of the far right; one that the former president fully delighted in. The game is to target a segment of the population, characterize them as “other,” vilify and humiliate them and inflict cultural torture by fucking with their lives through legislative harassment. It’s an ugly extension of white supremacy, something Conservatives will uphold to the death. And even though the morally deficient, orange monster is no longer in office, the ugly game goes on with disgusting brio.
We’ve been here so many times before. I don’t even know how to write this post. I don’t know which words to start with or what angle to take. Do I ruminate on political counterattacks and make a bulleted list of action items? Do I call out the offenders, inundate them with emails and Tweet their shame out for all to see? As if they had any shame? Or do I appeal (again) to our community of allies so that we may make a collective wall of tenderness and protection around our Trans and gender nonconforming loved ones? How do we do it this time?
And it’s not really like any of this is new. It’s relentless and seemingly endless. I’m fed up. And it’s not just because I’m the mother of a transgender daughter. It’s not because of my political leanings. It’s because I’m a decent human being and don’t understand why that basic mark–decency–is so fucking difficult for other human beings to get their minds around. I’m not defeated but I am exhausted. However, closing the lid to this laptop is not an option. I’m blessed with cisgender-privilege; I have a moral obligation to stay present and run into the flames if necessary.
The mom in me, as always, has a strong visceral reaction that borders on violence. I want to stand in their faces and dare them to pick on someone their own size– me. I want to stare into their eyes with the full force of my rage and make them the fearful ones for a change. If only their physical pain could be atonement for the trauma and brutality they’ve inflicted on transgender people for eons.
One night years ago, a man threatened to kill my daughter. She was just a teen. He chased her off the train platform and out into a busy intersection. She escaped by running into a nearby grocery store. Shortly after that incident, I started studying mix martial arts and vowed that I would fight to the death to protect her were we ever in such a situation together.
As far as I’m concerned, every piece of anti-transgender legislation out there is the same as the actions of the man on the train platform that night. Life-threatening.
Some would suggest to simply dig deeper, find some kind of shared humanity with these people and appeal to it. But I’m not there yet; I’m not that spiritually evolved. I have nothing in common with people who write these atrocious bills. The best I can do is speculate as to what happened to these wretched souls, what unraveled their spirit so completely, that they have this need to wreck the lives of innocent human beings. Maybe they were deprived of oxygen at some point, or dropped on their heads? Maybe they’re glitches in the primordial ooze, never intended for human form? It’s a mystery. But what I do know is that these lawmakers are prioritizing transgender discrimination, despite other urgent and legitimate matters, such as COVID recovery. It’s inexcusable and unforgiveable.
I don’t have answers tonight. Just anger and resolve. I would, however, like to ask a favor. The following link will take you to a complete state-by-state listing of all the anti-transgender legislation currently in process. Please take a look. If your state is on this list, please write your representatives and ask him/her/them to take a stand and oppose these political acts of hatred.
“In a year that has taken a toll on each and every one of us, it is shocking that anti-equality extremists in state legislatures across this country have dedicated an unprecedented amount of time and energy to attacking the LGBTQ community and particularly LGBTQ youth. The furious pace of these bills shows that hateful anti-equality groups across the country and extremist legislators alike realize that equality is gaining momentum. This is their shameful attempt to throw a wrench into the progress we have steadily made in the fight for equality.
Today’s milestone serves as a reminder of the intensity of our opposition and just how hard we must continue to work to overcome discrimination and exclusion. Progress in the fight for equality has always come in fits and starts but nevertheless marches forward. We know we are on the right side of history.”
Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President